Monday, December 17, 2007

Simon Fraser Dean Paul Shaker Supports Teacher's Refusal to Give Standardized Test

Paul Shaker, an active member of the Dewey Society and Dean of education at Simon Fraser University, has supported teacher Kathryn Sihota, who refused to administer a standardized exam to a child who appeared overly stressed by the prospect of taking it.

The teacher's refusal to administer the test has made national and even international news. Now Shaker's support for her is at the center of the storm.

Shaker stated at a college collquium that:

Teachers, having exercised due process, like other professional persons, have an obligation to act on the basis of their professional ethics, even when such behaviour requires non-violent civil disobedience and personal sacrifice by the teacher. The safety and nurturance of students is a sacred trust that assumes the highest priority.

We know that when an individual exercises the right to resist written law in response to a higher sense of morality that they assume a serious responsibility. In my understanding of the principles of our democratic social contract and moral tradition, however, I follow the convention that this option is available to us. Our democracy is an amalgamation of many individuals, making choices that matter for good or ill. Professional persons carry such responsibility to a greater extent than others due to their role in society. In and outside professions, we have seen that great issues of peace, human rights, and the environment have been advanced by courageous individuals standing up in this way, often at great cost to themselves

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